Hovden, R.; Ercius, P.; Jiang, Y.; Wang, D.; Yu, Y.; Abruña, H. D.; Elser, V. & Muller, D. A. Breaking the Crowther limit: Combining depth-sectioning and tilt tomography for high-resolution, wide-field 3D reconstructions. Ultramicroscopy, 2014, 140, 26-31
To date, high-resolution (<1 nm) imaging of extended objects in three-dimensions (3D) has not been possible. A restriction known as the Crowther criterion forces a tradeoff between object size and resolution for 3D reconstructions by tomography. Further, the sub-Angstrom resolution of aberration-corrected electron microscopes is accompanied by a greatly diminished depth of field, causing regions of larger specimens (>6 nm) to appear blurred or missing. Here we demonstrate a three-dimensional imaging method that overcomes both these limits by combining through-focal depth sectioning and traditional tilt-series tomography to reconstruct extended objects, with high-resolution, in all three dimensions. The large convergence angle in aberration corrected instruments now becomes a benefit and not a hindrance to higher quality reconstructions. A through-focal reconstruction over a 390 nm 3D carbon support containing over 100 dealloyed and nanoporous PtCu catalyst particles revealed with sub-nanometer detail the extensive and connected interior pore structure that is created by the dealloying instability.